The New York Jets have taken a lot of criticism over the last year about how they have managed their franchise. Many observers believe that this team has very little talent and that it is going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. However, the Jets have a whole lot more talent than they are given credit for, and while they are not a playoff team, they are going to be better than many fans think.
The Jets’ struggles in the passing game are well documented, and they are probably going to continue this season. Whether Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith is under center isn’t particularly important, as neither seems likely to solve the Jets’ problems. They should, however, have a solid rushing attack that will give them a chance to win games, provided the quarterbacks don’t turn the ball over.
Defensively, the Jets were a top 10 last season and figure to have every opportunity to be one again. They are younger and faster this year than at any other point in Rex Ryan‘s tenure, so expect them to play with the attacking style that brought the team to back to back AFC Championship games. Antonio Cromartie and David Harris lead this unit, and it will be expected to be the strength of the team.
The Jets were handed a schedule that will give them an opportunity to be competitive. They are pretty safe bets to lose to the elite teams they face, but they only have five games against playoff teams from last season, two of which are battles with the rival New England Patriots. If they want to post a respectable record, the Jets will have to take advantage of the easier matchups they have, such as the Buffalo Bills (twice), the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns.
However, even if the Jets beat the other bottom of the barrel teams they play, they are still going to have a losing record. My prediction for the Jets is a 6-10 record, which is more than many observers believe they can achieve. Their defense will be the reason they win games, and the teams that I believe they can beat are the more offensively challenged ones on their schedule. The Jets won’t be winning many shootouts, so the defense will have to keep them in games.
The Jets are not going to contend this season. However, they can and will be more competitive than they are being given credit for. This team is moving a lot of young players into prominent roles, and if they develop faster than anticipated, the Jets could take some better teams by surprise.